OSHA Targets Risks in Landscape Maintenance

1,072 work-related fatalities occurred in the landscaping and groundskeeping industry.   June 29, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor 

When the general public thinks about the safety hazards facing facility maintenance and engineering workers, risks related to electricity, roofs and power tools might come to mind first. Too often overlooked in such conversations are the dangers facing grounds workers responsible for maintaining facility landscapes. 

For workers doing these jobs, including young workers employed for the summer, the work exposes them to hazards such as moving machine parts, heat exposure, falling trees and toxic chemicals. From 2011-2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 1,072 work-related fatalities occurred in the landscaping and groundskeeping industry. In 2021, 142 industry workers suffered fatal workplace injuries. 

While workers struck by vehicles is typically the industry's leading cause of fatal injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warns of other hazards that can potentially lead landscaping and groundskeeping workers to suffer serious or fatal injuries. 

"Landscaping can be dangerous when workers lack experience and appropriate training in a language they understand," said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. "Too often, our inspectors find workers harmed in ways that their employers could have prevented by following federal and industry safety standards. We urge employers to implement strategies that involve their workers and protect everyone." 

Hazards that landscapers commonly face include: 

  • exposure to chemicals such as fertilizer and pesticides 
  • respiratory hazards 
  • lack of personal protective equipment, particularly to protect hands and feet 
  • moving machine parts, including mower blades and other equipment 
  • operating machines near water hazards, such as ponds and ditches 
  • encounters with animals, insects and other natural hazards 
  • contact with electrical power lines during tree and bush trimming 
  • exposure to extreme summer weather. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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